Follow Your Passion—Or Not

2 min read • Jul 22, 2013 • Guest Post

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 8.08.31 AMMany kids I speak to are confused by the passion thing. You know what I mean. According to the passion principle, all you have to do is identify what you really like to do, what really gives you energy, and build a business around that.

It’s a huge stumbling block.

The idea of developing a business concept through a passion-driven mentality is a false idea. To kids who have no clue what their passion is, the passion thing is confusing and adds unnecessary pressure. There’s enough associated with launching a startup; why add more? When I lecture at colleges and universities, I see students beating themselves up because they have not identified their passions. The quest often hurts a lot of kids because they feel stuck. Now, not only do they feel the pressure of wanting to launch a startup, but they have to somehow identify their passion before they can launch it.

Is Passion Necessary?

Launching a startup does not require it be built around your passion. If you determine what your passion is, great! More power to you. There is one more variable to consider. But whether or not you find your passion, it may not necessarily point you to the best business launch. Passion is an excellent guide for choosing hobbies but less so for choosing a business.

Launching a business is about applying good business principles, finding what problems there are for disruption in the marketplace, applying innovative solutions, and—this may be the critical step—executing flawlessly. The quest for passion hurts students when it stops them from taking action simply because they are unsure of their passion. Some more pertinent questions are: Is there a need in the marketplace? Can I actually meet that need? What do I need to learn to implement those ideas into action?

Howard Morgan, a New York Angels investor and cofounder of First Round Capital, absolutely requires that the entrepreneurs he backs demonstrate both passion and the ability to communicate the Big idea of the business. But passion alone is not enough. “In need to see passion tempered by indisputable facts that the business is, in fact, a real business,” Morgan says. “Show me how passionate you are about making the endeavor a profitable business.”

Passion is surely a part of the equation. It’s passion that will inspire your colleagues to work 20 hours a day to make the business successful, Morgan says: “Money comes from building something you love.” But Morgan also wants the entrepreneur to articulate why the world not only wants the proposed product or service, but why the world needs it.”

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 8.06.33 AMChairman of the New York Angels, an independent consortium of individual accredited angel investors, providing seed and early-stage capital. He is also the cofounder of Launch.it, a free newsroom for the world.

Tune in to a great podcast interview with Brian tomorrow.

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